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Pronunciation of the name Smaug...
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KasDel
Rivendell


Nov 26 2013, 5:05am

Post #1 of 29 (961 views)
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Pronunciation of the name Smaug... Can't Post

I have been reading Tolkien's stories since the '60's and have always thought the pronunciation of Smaug was similar to the pronunciation of smog but sticking a short a in the place of the o.
The trailers I have allowed myself to watch have pronounced the word with a Germanic umlaut. Sounding very much like a good old redneck southern boy (p.s. ... I AM a good old redneck southern boy! And I not offended by the term, so I don't believe I need to be 'politically correct' here!).
What do the rest of the site members think of this pronunciation?

KasDel the Last

"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." Gildor


DwellerInDale
Rohan


Nov 26 2013, 5:17am

Post #2 of 29 (619 views)
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No umlaut [In reply to] Can't Post

You may be confusing "umlaut" with the idea of a German-style vowel pronunciation for "Smaug". The idea is to pronounce it so that it rhymes with the German "Maus". If you put an umlaut in it as in e.g. Mäuschen" (little mice) then it would sound like "smoyg".

Don't mess with my favorite female elf.











(This post was edited by DwellerInDale on Nov 26 2013, 5:19am)


Joe20
Lorien


Nov 26 2013, 5:33am

Post #3 of 29 (605 views)
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Well for me [In reply to] Can't Post

its always been Smaug like Sauron. Both have an 'au'. So I pronounced it like Sauron is pronounced in the movies... S-ow-ron and Sm-ow-g.


demnation
Rohan

Nov 26 2013, 5:43am

Post #4 of 29 (580 views)
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I've given up trying to do it the correct way [In reply to] Can't Post

I just say "Smog." Rolls off the tongue easier.

Mr Baggins began as a comic tale among conventional and inconsistent Grimm's fairy-tale dwarves, and got drawn into the edge of it – so that even Sauron the terrible peeped over the edge.- JRR Tolkien, Letter 19


micha84
Rivendell

Nov 26 2013, 6:21am

Post #5 of 29 (569 views)
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PJ "Schmaug" [In reply to] Can't Post

I noticed that PJ usually calls him "schmaug", as we would write it in German. "shmowg" basically. Always find that a bit odd, where he takes that from. Maybe something in the NZ dialect?


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Nov 26 2013, 6:41am

Post #6 of 29 (526 views)
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Nope, not the NZ dialouge, this coming from a Kiwi. [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know if it's right but it was Smawg for me as a kid, although it may be Smowg but never PJ's Shmawg.


patrickk
Rohan

Nov 26 2013, 6:45am

Post #7 of 29 (491 views)
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I don't think Kiwis generally would say Shmowg [In reply to] Can't Post

... they would be more like Aussies and say Shmawg like I do: the 'au' being the same sound as in 'fault'.


Lissuin
Tol Eressea


Nov 26 2013, 6:47am

Post #8 of 29 (542 views)
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Sir PJ's "Schmaug" [In reply to] Can't Post

He also says "Schmeagol". I've never heard an explanation for his pronunciation of those two. Has anyone? It isn't Kiwi.


demnation
Rohan

Nov 26 2013, 7:17am

Post #9 of 29 (502 views)
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If I can hazard a guess [In reply to] Can't Post

I would say it all comes down to a matter of preference. Perhaps he just likes the "Sch" sound. Come to think of it, I'm not even really sure what Tolkien's preferred pronunciation was. (and I call myself a fan...Frown)

Mr Baggins began as a comic tale among conventional and inconsistent Grimm's fairy-tale dwarves, and got drawn into the edge of it – so that even Sauron the terrible peeped over the edge.- JRR Tolkien, Letter 19


Elizabeth
Valinor


Nov 26 2013, 8:07am

Post #10 of 29 (477 views)
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That's what I've always understood to be the correct way.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 








Fredeghar Wayfarer
Lorien


Nov 26 2013, 8:46am

Post #11 of 29 (471 views)
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Question of language [In reply to] Can't Post

According to this link, Tolkien based "Smaug" on an Old English word meaning "to squeeze through a hole": http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Smaug#Etymology

So it would depend on the proper pronunciation of Old English. We can't really use Sauron as an example of the "au" sound. That name is in Sindarin so it would have different rules than Old English. Is anyone on the board familiar with Old English or Germanic languages in general?

In any case, I used to pronounce it "Smog" but thought it was dumb that the dragon shared his name with Los Angeles pollution. I much prefer "Smowg" like the movie is using.


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Nov 26 2013, 10:22am

Post #12 of 29 (443 views)
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I used to say smog-ish, too [In reply to] Can't Post

And I'm trying to remember where I heard Professor Tolkien say it in his recordings... but he pronounced it like the au is more like out or ow but beginning with an "ah".... Smaowg. I'll see if I can chase down exactly where I heard it on the recordings I have. It's significant to me because I had so much trouble changing how I was so used to saying it.



5th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - August 11, 2013
1st draft of TH:DOS Geeky Observation List - August 11, 2013



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grammaboodawg
Immortal


Nov 26 2013, 10:23am

Post #13 of 29 (431 views)
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Peter also says "Schmeagol" :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 



5th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - August 11, 2013
1st draft of TH:DOS Geeky Observation List - August 11, 2013



sample

"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!



TIME Google Calendar
TORn's Geeky Observations Lists (updated soon)


macfalk
Valinor


Nov 26 2013, 11:03am

Post #14 of 29 (428 views)
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It's the only correct pronounciation of Smaug. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


macfalk
Valinor


Nov 26 2013, 11:03am

Post #15 of 29 (446 views)
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Well, it's not that hard! [In reply to] Can't Post

Sm-au-g!



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Beeromir
The Shire


Nov 26 2013, 1:39pm

Post #16 of 29 (394 views)
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Whatever [In reply to] Can't Post

My last name is Saunders and I don't pronounce Sow-nders.

Saunders comes from Alexaunder, and that would comport with "Smog" albeit with a bit of an "a" feel in there.


macfalk
Valinor


Nov 26 2013, 1:43pm

Post #17 of 29 (386 views)
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I see [In reply to] Can't Post

Come to think about it, I can understand now why native English speakers have some problems with pronouncing Tolkien's names, had not thought about it before. I think it comes a lot more easier if your native language is one of the north-germanic languages.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Elthir
Gondor

Nov 26 2013, 1:52pm

Post #18 of 29 (584 views)
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au as in English 'loud' or Elvish 'Sauron' [In reply to] Can't Post

We can still use Sauron, in a sense, as Tolkien refers back to the letter values described [in the Elvish section] when he speaks generally of the Old Norse and Old English translations -- emphasis on generally, as there are noted exceptions.

So seemingly -au- as in English 'loud', the same example for the Eldarin pronunciation.


That said, what is Smaug? The Tolkien Gateway currently describes: 'Deriving from the same Old English and Germanic roots as smial and Smeagol the name Smaug is "the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb Smugan, to squeeze through a hole". It has been suggested that Tolkien likely thought of Old English smeag, a word used to describe a "worm".'

The citation that I highlighted in blue is from Tolkien himself, in a letter. And the footnote reveals that this last bit about 'smeag' was suggested by Peter Gilliver, Edmund Weiner and Jeremy Marshall, in the book The Ring of Words. This smeag [with long e] actually appears in a draft for Appendix F...

... as in the drafts for Appendix F, Tolkien noted: 'Similarly, Rohan smygel, actually an Old English word for a burrow, related to a Northern stem smug/smeag (smaug)* [note 41] here represents the genuine Rohan trahan related to Hobbit tran. (...) (Smaug, the Dragon's name, is a representation in similar terms, in this case of a more Scandanavian character, of the Dale name Tragu, which was probably related to the trah- stem in the mark and Shire.)

Note 41: These are forms of the same prehistoric stem, with differing vowels (smeag being the ancient English form, smaug the Scandanavian, while smygel...'

So a more Scandanavian character, representing a Dale name. Makes sense. But this much does not appear in the final form of Appendix F, for whatever reason, where it is also noted: 'The still more northerly language of Dale is in this book seen only in the names of the Dwarves that came from that region...'

Only in the Dwarf-names? In any case Gandalf is surely Old Norse [a 'Dwarf-name' in an Old Norse text, if not the name of a Dwarf in Tolkien's tale]. And yet Gandalf is not to be pronounced 'as described' or it would end in -v not -f, and -f we know to be correct. Gandalf is arguably a special case, despite its Norse external origin. In Unfinished Tales Tolkien says it represents a Westron name [not a Dale name then, I would add, although some seem to think possibly adopted from a Dale name].

It's all very clear Wink

But -au- as in 'loud' is still correct in any event, I would say.



(This post was edited by Elthir on Nov 26 2013, 1:57pm)


Lieutenant of Dol Guldur
Gondor


Nov 26 2013, 2:53pm

Post #19 of 29 (365 views)
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Funny because usually it's the other way round [In reply to] Can't Post

Usually it is the English speaking majority of the world who has fun when non native speakers have problems with pronouncing some of their words. "Squirrel" for example has always been one of my archenemies in English class. I still hate it to use that word… although I like the animal. On the other hand… which native English speaker is able to pronounce the German word for "squirrel" correctly? Ever tried to say "Eichhörnchen"?

The thing is… you native English speakers from America, Australia, England or New Zealand are the majority on this planet… so why learn to speak complicated languages like German or Swedish?

But thanks to Prof Tolkien we have finally these little discussions worldwide on how to pronounce names like Smaug, Sauron, Palantir or Edoras. Discussion we north-germanic language speakers never had because we're used to it.Tongue

"There is only one Lord of the Ring, only one who can bend it to his will. And he does not share power."


demnation
Rohan

Nov 26 2013, 3:07pm

Post #20 of 29 (348 views)
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Well, that's the thing [In reply to] Can't Post

To my mind, the sound the "au" would make is similar to the au in "plaudit" or "audit." (That is, an "o" sound.)

Mr Baggins began as a comic tale among conventional and inconsistent Grimm's fairy-tale dwarves, and got drawn into the edge of it – so that even Sauron the terrible peeped over the edge.- JRR Tolkien, Letter 19


demnation
Rohan

Nov 26 2013, 3:07pm

Post #21 of 29 (341 views)
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Thank you for the detailed explanation! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll try and force my brain to do the right way from now on.

Mr Baggins began as a comic tale among conventional and inconsistent Grimm's fairy-tale dwarves, and got drawn into the edge of it – so that even Sauron the terrible peeped over the edge.- JRR Tolkien, Letter 19


ryanw8
The Shire

Nov 26 2013, 3:33pm

Post #22 of 29 (349 views)
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He's not a pronunciation expert [In reply to] Can't Post

At the LA fan event, Evangeline Lilly made fun of PJ's bad pronunciation of all things Middle Earth, including Smaug and Tauriel. Even near the beginning of the AUJ commentary Phillipa Boyens corrects him and PJ says to her "That's why you're here"


macfalk
Valinor


Nov 26 2013, 3:55pm

Post #23 of 29 (335 views)
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Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post

In fact, I can't think of a single name for a character or a location in Middle-earth that I wasn't 100% sure of how it is supposed to be pronounced, simply because my native language is so very similar in structure to Tolkien's languages.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


elaen32
Gondor


Nov 26 2013, 5:12pm

Post #24 of 29 (316 views)
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The "au-" sound in English is often a difficult one [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it must originally derive from Norman French, since the French certainly pronounce "au" as a sort of "O" sound- as in au fait, Maupassant etc (pronounced more like "Oh fay" and "Mohpassant" than "Ow fay" or "Mowpassant")

I used to pronounce Smaug as Smawg until I related it (erroneously, it seems) to Sauron. At least I got to the right place in the end, even if it was for the wrong reasons!Crazy


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



dormouse
Half-elven


Nov 26 2013, 5:13pm

Post #25 of 29 (304 views)
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Same here - Smowg and Sowron // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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